5 Business Newsletter Writing Best Practices

When you make e-newsletters, which I’ve done for more than ten years, you can overlook some business newsletter writing best practices. Some, like privacy rules, require legal compliance. Others, like the format, can affect a newsletter’s overall impact.

1. Have a plan – Studies show people read online content in an F-shape. They focus on the top and the left side, reading from left to right.

A yellow-ish red eye with a red circle and points around it. Eye-tracking studies show that people read online content in an F-shaped pattern; considering this in your content creation is among the business newsletter writing best practices.

They also tend to scan or skim emails. As email marketer Des Brown suggests, when you create an e-newsletter, consider:

  • scannability
  • visual hierarchy
  • reading patterns

Structure your content accordingly.

Many email marketing platforms offer mobile-friendly templates you can adapt to your style. Especially if you’ve never created an e-newsletter, compiling one is like guesswork. See what to add and where for prime engagement with The Easy 5-Step Business E-Newsletter Template.

2. Consider the format – Beyond planning and structure, a regular format eases creation.

Service provider e-newsletters often start with a “welcome” message, followed by one or two main articles, and then end with an offer. One section usually features a blog.

The listicle format has helped me keep creating e-newsletters for 11 years. Limiting the number to five also prevents me from driving down dead ends. 

3. Foster ideas – I love to pre-crastinate, gradually adding ingredients to my pot of soup. I log ideas or snippets whenever inspiration strikes. 

Whether you use an online scheduler or a spreadsheet, a three to 12-month content calendar can keep you organized. Apps may remind you about deadlines.

As you consider topics, explore how to save time and how your emails fit into your overall marketing strategy: 

  • Curate content from sources like industry news websites using tools.
  • Reduce, reuse, and recycle: Reinvent any existing content (blog posts, video, press releases, white papers, etc.). Link back, summarize, or rephrase. 

4. Catchier content – Most e-newsletters are educational, selling more subtly than email marketing campaigns. 

Eye-catching headlines, body copy, and calls to action are crucial. The subject line is the first thing people see and influences whether they will open an email.

Example: How to protect, preserve, and pass on your wealth by design (Sundvick Legacy Center)

Content that engages is not only useful or persuasive, but relatable. Sharing your stories in your own voice, like what works and what hasn’t worked for you, shows you as a person, not a bot. Your unique experiences help you stand out.

5. Privacy compliance This is an important business newsletter writing best practice. During a recent e-newsletter review, I was surprised at least ten percent of the U.S. companies’ footers didn’t follow CAN-SPAM rules. Some had “unsubscribe” links in low-contrast colors, making them hard to see.

Other CAN-SPAM aspects to note for commercial emails:

  • identify ads
  • don’t use deceptive subject lines

CASL (Canadian Anti-Spam Law) and GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation; Europe) require similar compliance.

What are some of your favorite e-newsletter best practices? Feel free to comment below.

QUOTES

“Create a questionnaire of common information you need to know from clients to put together an e-newsletter. Also, have a template where you can fill in the blanks of what they can discuss, depending on the type of newsletter (sale vs. announcement vs. new service, etc.). Organization and planning can help make the writing process go smoother and faster.”

Ashley Romer, SEO Manager, PaperStreet Web Design

“Your newsletters should include a variety of elements (blogs/articles, videos, podcasts, upcoming events, etc.). Balance consumable content with promotional content to maximize value for the recipient.”

Harvard University Brand and Visual Identity Guidelines, “Email Newsletter Best Practices

5 Essential Elements of Lead-Generating Content

Is your business growing? If not, new marketing tactics, especially tried and true methods, could build results. But with the many lead-generating content marketing options available, it can be hard to decide how best to attract leads.

Knowing the ingredients of copy that sells helps. Once I learned more about them and started using them, my offers began to gain more clicks.

See even more details on each step featured in this article.

Use these secrets of lead-converting copy to boost responses from your dream clients.

A drawing of a magnifying glass in front of a laptop with a cog or gear on its screen; surrounding the laptop and the magnifying glass is a colorful 3D flowchart of concepts like clouds and circles with icons on them.

1. Headlines and subheadings – Aim to write a headline that hooks readers into the rest of your copy. A well-written one makes impressions in the form of responses or clickthroughs.

Evidence suggests an engaging title should contain one or more of the following ingredients:

  • News or timeliness
  • Relevance to the audience and the content (industry terms, targeted keywords, etc.)
  • Clarity
    • active verbs
    • conciseness
    • strong syntax (word placement)
  • Personalization (e.g., “John, save 25% on widgets this week”) or an appeal to “you” or “your”
  • Power words (including trigrams) or psychological triggers or other emotion-evoking specifics:
    • a promise or a benefit
    • a curiosity “gap” (through mystery or a pleasant surprise)
    • negative superlatives (e.g., “the worst”)
    • urgency or scarcity (limited offers)
    • a number (especially an odd one) as a digit, including statistics
    • social proof or identity (“Join 234 other business professionals…”) (building trust and a sense of belonging)

Example: The 7 Worst Estate Planning Mistakes 

Many of these aspects, including the curiosity gap, have attracted more attention to my emails. Don’t go overboard like I did when I first practiced the principles — I piled them into my headlines. I’ve since learned that three or fewer per title work well.

Place subheadings throughout longer content to break it up and highlight key points — and add the elements above to boost engagement.

2. Targeted keywords – List words and phrases that appeal to your audience. Then use tools like Google Instant, Google Ads, or SEMRush’s Topic Research to refine search terms, including questions people ask. Businesses that serve a local market should add location-based keywords. This research may also inform your lead-generating content topics. 

Example: “financial advisor for single mothers in Texas”

Or focus on different aspects of your products or services or your clients’ goals.

Example: “financial advisor for aggressive growth portfolios” or “financial advisor for first-time home buyers.”

Adding keywords to headlines, headings, and throughout, helps the right clients find you online. Place them in website meta descriptions, too. But avoid age-old “stuffing” techniques that no longer work. As few as one to three keywords can gain results. Compared to high-volume keywords, long-tail ones with three or more terms reach a more targeted audience. 

3. A clear structure – For snippets of 300 or fewer words, one topic works well. But for longer content, an outline organizes your ideas to flow from one to the next, easing reading. And it prevents trips down rabbit holes. 

The P-A-S headline formula, problem-agitate-solution, works for lead-generating content like landing pages and emails. The F-A-B formula (features-advantages-benefits) also augments persuasive content, especially for products, per Intuit’s Lacerte software web page

Informational content, like blog posts, benefits from the A-I-D-A (attention-interest-desire-action) format. 

4. Compelling body copy – Don’t tell, show! Use vivid, benefit-driven language to describe how your offer changes lives. Power words like “transform” and “effortless” and descriptive terms like “patient-centered” grab attention and reframe information positively. 

More elements that draw readers (from “Brainfluence” by Roger Dooley, “Made to Stick” by Chip and Dan Heath, “Contagious” by Jonah Berger, and other books):

  • Statistics that use numbers rather than percentages (“Nine out of ten dentists recommend”). Those that show a relationship or correlation hold interest, too.
  • Testimonials, which may also show social proof and build credibility; add a name, face, and a story or feature what others say about you (“Ranked #3 by J.D. Power & Associates”).
  • Asking people to imagine they own an item through leading questions helps them feel like they have it. Example: De Beers’ “A Diamond Is Forever” ad campaign: “How can you make two months’ salary last forever?”
  • Focus on remarkability: what makes your product or idea remarkable? Example: Apple iPod: “1,000 songs in your pocket”
  • Define the benefit of the benefit (e.g., “quarter-inch holes” vs. “quarter-inch drill-bits”).

5. Effective calls-to-action (CTAs) Inspire readers to act through clear and concise directions. Describe what they’ll get. Formulas like V-O-U (verb-offer-urgency) can guide you to clickable frameworks.

Or, as HubSpot suggests, ask yourself:

  • What do I want the reader to do?
  • Why should they do it?
  • How will they know to do it?

Clarify your goals for your readers and align them with their problems.

Strong action verbs encourage clicks. The key is to use descriptive terms. Generic phrases like “click here” don’t work as well at influencing action. More descriptive text also helps the visually and cognitively impaired take your directions.

Example: Start your free case evaluation now

Simple and clear action verbs include:

  • Join
  • Book
  • Sign-Up

When possible, prefer one-syllable words for easier understanding. Though the word “get” is popular, some marketers don’t consider it specific or effective enough. But it can work in some offers.

As always, despite what the experts say (or think), test and track the results. Adjust your writing, if necessary, to enhance interest.

How do you like to write copy to get responses? Feel free to comment below.

QUOTES

“Content is the fuel for your lead generation efforts.”

Dayna Rothman

“Approach each customer with the idea of helping him or her solve a problem or achieve a goal, not of selling a product or service.”

Brian Tracy

5 Ways to Write With Style

A little creative flair helps everyone write with style and hook readers. With the rise of generative AI, because it’s trained on others’ online content, bland or ordinary writing abounds. AI-created copy also promotes common writing woes, from clichés to the passive voice.

Learn more about each of the steps listed here in this series of five videos.

Here’s how to sell a product, a service, or an idea memorably to gain leads.

1. Evoke imagery – Writers have often been advised to “show, not tell”: to choose words that stimulate the five senses. “To be” verbs and other weak wording advise readers how to feel or think. Such passages are as exciting as endless vacation photos.

  • Example: The storm was terrifying.
  • Rewrite: The wind roared like a train, causing the hairs on the back of Jan’s neck to rise.

The latter shows the physical effects of the wind on Jan through the senses of feeling and hearing. Descriptive language adds impact to your storytelling, headlines, and body copy.

Poets excel at turning the literal into the figurative.

Example: “The fog comes on little cat feet.” ~ Carl Sandburg, Fog

Studying this art form can inspire creative wording. It can truly enhance your storytelling. In business terms, it can mean translating ordinary descriptions of a service into images everyone can relate to.

Example: “Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.”

To enhance imagery, imagine a scene unfolding in your mind and describe it with action verbs, adjectives, or other details. In advertising, choose power words

For promotional purposes, descriptive writing reframes concepts or terms to make them sound more appealing. It prefers adjectives like “oven-crisp,” to “baked.” As Roger Dooley noted in “Brainfluence,” it doesn’t work in contexts that require a clear understanding of information, such as ordering instructions.

2. Add rhythm – Vary the length of your sentences. For instance, three short ones in a row sound robotic:

A man dressed as a female punk wearing an bright orange wig, green eyeshadow, and dark lipstick writing with a pencil on a pad of paper.

As they flow from one idea to the next, a mix of short and long sentences adds rhythm and engrosses readers.

When you repeat words for emphasis, you can produce a memorable statement. Leaders like Ronald Reagan and Martin Luther King, Jr. used this anaphora effectively to highlight their beliefs and ideas. They tied them together clearly while they evoked strong emotions in their listeners. 

Example: “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” ~ John F. Kennedy

Anaphora also works well in ads. 

Example: “Big skies. Big scenery. Big possibilities for all kinds of adventure.” (WestJet)

Rhythm, coupled with the tone behind your words, adds grace or eloquence.

Alliteration, words that start with the same letter or sound nearby in a sentence, acts like music to readers’ ears.

Like anaphora, it makes passages “stickier,” adds emphasis, and stirs feelings. It also works well in slogans:

Example: Faster, fulfilling, and flexible business solutions.

Don’t veer into creating tongue twisters, though. Use similar-sounding words sparingly.

Example: You can’t cut corners.

3. Rhyme time – You don’t have to mimic Dr. Seuss — which can be a little “suss” to some — but similar-sounding words can also connect with readers.

According to cognitive fluency researcher Matt McGlone, rhyming phrases can feel more truthful or accurate to readers. They’re also easier for our brains to process, making them clearer and more memorable.

Rhyme can be most effective for boosting brand awareness and engagement in slogans, calls-to-action, or headlines.

Example: Plop, plop, fizz fizz, oh, what a relief it is! (Alka-Seltzer)

As shown, one word that rhymes with another is appealing. A one-syllable word also sounds natural.

Plays on words, however, can go over some readers’ heads. Prefer clear over clever phrasing.

4. Get creative – Clichés are overused passages that lack originality. 

Example: Think outside the box.

Consider other ways to say it with style. 

Revised: Find a new solution.

Cliché Finder can help you spotlight them in your work.

Behavioral marketing experts like Nancy Harhut have suggested that metaphors can transform abstract products into concrete or tangible ones. They help us grasp a concept quickly.

Example: “Crazy Egg is like a pair of X-ray glasses that lets you see exactly what people are doing on your website.”

5. Sound like yourself When I chose the phrase “write with style” as part of this blog’s title, I hadn’t read the International Paper ad by novelist Kurt Vonnegut. While I researched and wrote this piece, I stumbled across the ad, which is essentially an article featuring his tips on the topic. 

In it, Vonnegut advised against writing “like cultivated Englishmen of a century or more ago.” He also suggested you write like you speak and “say what you mean to say,” in easy-to-understand language. When you’re selling a product or a service, that can mean writing like your audience speaks.

Like Vonnegut’s works, his thoughts remain timeless. Our voices, perspectives, and experiences make us unique. ChatGPT hasn’t played darts. It hasn’t stubbed a toe or eaten creme brulee. Though it can create based on data, it lacks our perceptions. It doesn’t always duplicate humanity.

Discover how to write with style to reach clients who value and respect you and your business

How do you write with style? Feel free to comment below.

QUOTES

“If you scribble your thoughts any which way, your readers will surely feel that you care nothing about them. They will mark you down as an egomaniac or a chowderhead — or, worse, they will stop reading you.”

Kurt Vonnegut

5 Email Marketing Trends to Automate Your Business Email Creation

Do you know how email marketing trends like user-generated content and personalization can enhance your messages and engagement? 🤓

You might be familiar with some of the latest advances, but others might be new to you because they’re not standard practice yet. These are among the trends that can reshape your email content landscape and conversion rates.

For an in-depth look into all five email marketing trends and how they can refine your content creation, see the videos in this playlist.
An example of an AMP-enabled email from email marketing platform AWeber.
An example of an AMP-enabled email from email marketing platform AWeber.

1. Interactivity: AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages), a Google framework, brings activities like completing forms and game playing to emails. E-commerce and subscription sites like Finish Line and Booking.com have used it, but any business can leverage it for engagement. Another, lower-tech option (with or without AMP) is user-generated content (UGC).

AMP: With features like AMP List, you may automatically update product listings and remove old offers. AMP Accordion hides or expands content like FAQs and product information. AMP also animates “call-to-action” buttons.

Google offers AMP to software developers, but many email service providers/platforms (ESPs) don’t currently support it. (AWeber, MailChimp, and MailModo are among the AMP-enabled platforms.) AMP-capable ESPs often feature limited versions like design features in their template builders. Also, it’s incompatible with some non-Gmail clients.

UGC: With this and other creative email marketing trends, you may spur readers to act through methods like:

  • Requesting a review after a purchase
  • Asking readers to complete a survey

2. Personalization: Go beyond adding subscribers’ names to emails or segmenting your list by audience with custom customer-focused content. Amazon, Starbucks, and other vendors have used predictive personalization based on customers’ locations and other data to forecast content or products that appeal to them. 

Example: A sporting goods store emails a discount on a parka to a buyer who lives nearby and recently bought thermal insulated gloves.

AMP also enables personalization through collecting data directly from surveys, forms, and other content in emails. 

3. Accessibility: Emails continue to become more text than image-based. Easy-to-read fonts and complementary colors are among the elements that make them accessible, especially for readers with visual and cognitive conditions. 

Litmus reports that in 2022, an average of 35 percent of people read emails in “dark mode,” with dark backgrounds against lighter-colored text. 

To ensure everyone can read your messages, check if the text is clear. Browser add-ons such as WebAIM’s WAVE and tools like EXPERTE.com’s Accessibility Check test if the elements of emails meet accessibility standards. The EXPERTE.com tool works like the accessibility checker in Google’s PageSpeed Insights except it scores and assesses every major page at a website.

4. Automated content: Artificial intelligence (AI) tools in ESPs let people create images and email copy. Leading providers Constant Contact and MailChimp are among those that now offer AI assistants. (MailChimp’s Email Content Generator is available only to their standard and premium plan users.) Creators who cull content from other sources can use apps like: 

  • Wordtune: Summarize content from a website address. 
  • Claude: Cut and paste content into the platform and prompt it for a summary. 
  • FeedlyThrough its Leo tool, this RSS reader lets you pull online content based on your reading history and keyword alerts. 
  • Google Alerts: Save keyword searches for relevant news articles
  • Web browser extensions that aid content curation

5. Automated content curation: For a fee, ESPs like rasa.io and Futurescope offer in-platform content curation. 

Rasa.io pulls content from various sources like blogs and social media accounts. Its AI automation tool will then sift through the content, and based on users’ clicks, customize a message for them. Futurescope lets you choose a topic or industry to create brand-specific content.

What’s your favorite email marketing trend? Feel free to comment below.

QUOTES

“I see interactive as a huge shift in email development. Early analytics have shown far greater engagement from users who receive interactive messages.”

~ Mark Robbins, Email Developer, Rebelmail

“Content curation involves finding other people’s good stuff, summarizing it, and sharing it. Curation is a win-win-win: you need content to share; blogs and websites need more traffic, and people need filters to reduce the flow of information.”

~ Guy Kawasaki, The Art of Social Media: Power Tips for Power Users

5 Steps to Write a Unique Selling Proposition, Value Proposition, or Tagline (Examples)

Is a unique selling proposition (USP) the same as a tagline, a value proposition, or a mission statement? Not necessarily.

A kiosk selling magazines and newspapers with the sign "Kiosk Press" above it in green and gold.

A tagline and a proposition distinguish your products or services. A tagline, sometimes known as a slogan, is a concise and memorable form of your selling proposition. A mission statement defines why you’re in business.

By contrast and its original definition, by adman Rosser Reeves, a unique selling proposition is more benefit-oriented:

  1. “Each advertisement must make a proposition to the consumer…Each advertisement must say to each reader: ‘Buy this product, and you will get this specific benefit.’
  2. The proposition must be one that the competition either cannot or does not, offer. It must be unique–either a uniqueness of the brand or a claim not otherwise made in that particular field of advertising…
  3. The proposition must be so strong that it can move the mass millions, i.e., pull over new customers to your product.”

Some see a USP and a value proposition as the same. Compared to a USP, others view a value proposition as a more specific claim about the effectiveness of products or services.

Here’s how Nike, maker of athletic gear, has expressed their uniqueness through each type of messaging:

  • Unique selling proposition: “Nike delivers innovative products, experiences and services to inspire athletes.”
  • Value proposition: “Customizable performance or lifestyle sneakers with unique colorways and materials.” (Specific to their Colorways footwear)
  • Mission statement: “Bring innovation and inspiration to every athlete in the world.”
  • Tagline or slogan: “Just do it.”

The basic building blocks of a mission statement or a tagline may form your unique selling or value proposition.

See how to write a unique selling proposition (USP), value proposition, or tagline step-by-step–with examples.

How to Write a Unique Selling Proposition, a Value Proposition, or a Tagline

1. Consider your “how” – What do you do? What sets you apart from competitors? Which problems do you solve? Your personality and how you do business, combined with your expertise, make you “you.” They’re part of your brand.

Example: The Law Office of Brady Skinner: “The No B.S. Attorney.”

2. Hear your “who” – Who do you serve? Do you have special knowledge or experience that helps you help certain people?

Example: Arizona-based real estate divorce specialist Bob Adelfson helps people going through a divorce sell their marital homes.

3. Find your “why” – Why do you do what you do? Why does your work matter to you — and why should it matter to others? Which problems do you solve? Answering these questions helps customers understand why you can help them. This ties to your core brand values.

Example: Some doctors at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center were also cancer patients. Their experiences led them to feel more empathy for their patients. They also better understood the side effects of the treatments they prescribed.

Their knowledge and personal experience add to their “why” and differentiate them from providers who haven’t had cancer.

4. Add them up – How + Who + Why = Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP). This equation helped me create my new business USP and tagline.

Example: Quality custom content that boosts service firms’ brands to win the right clients.

A USP defines an aspect of your business that distinguishes it. Using two of the three parts of the USP equation (“how” + “why,” “how” + “who,” etc.), you may trim your USP to a tagline.

Example: Based on my USP, my tagline becomes, “Win the right clients with quality custom content.”

5. Take a step farther – Add a specific claim to your USP or your tagline to form your value proposition. The benefit can include the results customers may expect or will get from working with you.

Example: “15 minutes or less can save you 15% or more on car insurance.” (Geico)

What’s your unique selling proposition? Feel free to comment below.

QUOTES

“You’ve got to start with the customer experience then work backwards.”

Steve Jobs

“A unique selling proposition is no longer enough. Without a unique selling talent, it may die.”

Bill Bernbach